Scarlet Heat (Born to Darkness)(5)

By: Evangeline Anderson

Not really, I thought but was too polite to say out loud.

“Yes, thank you,” I said, stepping over the threshold and into the house that was going to be my home for the next three months. “I appreciate your invitation.”

“Sure.” Victor shrugged uneasily, his broad shoulders rolling under his plain white t-shirt. I had yet to see him in anything but t-shirts, jeans, and work boots. Except for the ill-fitting jacket he’d borrowed from Corbin for our “wedding,” that was.

“So, like I was saying, this is the kitchen,” he continued, once I had come forward to join him. “You can, um, make yourself at home and there’s plenty of stuff in the fridge—”

“I don’t eat,” I reminded him. I was hoping against hope that he would offer me some of his blood before he went, but I wasn’t going to ask. Not even if I starved to death.

“Yeah, of course not. You need…need blood. My blood.” He was looking more and more nervous.

“Only if you want to give it.” I looked down at my hands. My fingers were clenched together, the knuckles white. My throat felt like it was lined with barbed wire and my gut twisted with need. Please, I thought. Oh please…oh please…

“Fine.” Victor seemed to come to a sudden decision. He leaned back against the kitchen counter, both hands braced on the countertop, and turned his head, baring his neck for me.

I approached him slowly, my heart suddenly pounding. His big body was tense, the muscles standing out hard under his thin white shirt. Under his olive skin, I could see a steady pulse beating in the strong column of his throat.

The closer I got, the more intimidating I found him. He was so massive, so alive—his muscular body pulsing with animal energy. Even though as vampire, I’m supernaturally strong, I sensed he was stronger—much stronger. He could crush me in a heartbeat if he wanted to. I could feel his heat, could almost taste his wild scent on the tip of my tongue…

He’s so big…too big. I wanted his blood desperately—my fangs were fully extended and aching to pierce his warm olive skin. But to get close enough to feed, I would also have to be close enough for him to grab me—hurt me. My time with Roderick rose before my eyes and I pushed it back down again quickly.

That’s over now—I won’t think about it. And Victor promised not to hurt me. Corbin made him swear an oath. It’ll be okay. Everything is going to be fine…isn’t it?

Taking a deep breath, I forced myself to go right up beside him. But even hunched down as he was, his throat was still far out of reach. I began to wish I had worn heels instead of my sensible black flats—the four inch stilettos Celeste used to make me wear would have made getting to the tantalizing vein I saw in his neck a hell of a lot easier.

Standing on tiptoes, I touched his arm lightly to brace myself as I tried to reach him. His biceps tensed rock hard under my fingertips and he twitched, reminding me of a stray dog uncertain how it feels about being stroked by a stranger.

“Hurry the fuck up, will you?” he growled. “I never did like needles and this is a damn awkward position to be in.”

It was too much—he was too big, too threatening. I lost my nerve and stepped back.

“I can’t reach you. Maybe…maybe you should just go.”

“No, damn it.” He straightened up and shook his head fiercely. “Just look at you—now that I see you in the light I can tell you’re in a bad way.”

“I’m fine.” I drew myself up and crossed my arms over my chest protectively. “Just fine.”

“Hell no, you’re not,” he said, almost angrily. “You look like a stiff wind would blow you over. You need blood.”

He took a step toward me and I took a step back. I didn’t like the way he loomed over me—it made me feel small and trapped. It brought back memories I would rather forget.

“I can wait until you get back.” I swallowed and heard a dry click in my throat. “Honestly.”

“No, you can’t. You need to get some now—I’m going out tonight and I don’t know when I’ll be back.” He came toward me again—and again, I backed up.

“Why?” I made myself ask, though my heart was pounding and my lips felt numb. “Are you, uh, planning a trip?”

He barked a short laugh. “Something like that. Sometimes when the moon calls me like she is tonight, I…it takes me a little while to come…to come all the way back.” He scowled. “I really can’t explain it more than that.”

“Oh,” I whispered. I took another step back and felt something hard hit my hip. Casting a glance over my shoulder, I saw that I was trapped with the L-shaped kitchen counter at my back. I had literally backed myself into a corner.

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